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Chobe River Safaris: Life aboard a Luxury Houseboat

Chobe River Safaris: Life aboard a Luxury Houseboat

Chobe has a well-earned reputation for phenomenal big game viewing. Visitors from around the world flock to this game-packed park to see lion, buffalo, giraffe and (the real stars of the show!) elephant. You’re likely to see more elephant here than anywhere else in Africa, especially during Botswana’s dry season when herds of up to a hundred gather on the banks of the Chobe River.

Forming the northern border of Chobe National Park, this wide river is lined with lush floodplains dotted with animals. Lodges in the Kasane area (just outside the park) all offer water-based game viewing, and sections of the river can become busy with boats. My advice: dodge the crowds and enjoy riverside game viewing at its best with a few leisurely days aboard a luxury houseboat.

Chobe River luxury houseboat
The Zambezi Queen quietly cruises along the Chobe River (by Shaun Mcminn Photography)

A Typical Day on the Water

Mornings are magical out on the water. The game viewing is seriously good at this time of day so get going early or opt instead for a lazy lie in, listening to the grunt of hippo or cry of an African fish eagle. Itineraries tend to be more flexible on a luxury houseboat, so how the day plays out is up to you. You can always catch up with the wildlife later.

Breakfast is the perfect time to chat about the day ahead. These houseboats each have their own tender boats and guide. Small and easily manoeuvrable, the boats get you up close to wildlife at the water’s edge. Glide past giant crocodiles and pods of twitchy-eared hippo; watch as a jewel-bright kingfisher hovers above the water or a herd of elephant swim past, their trunks held up like snorkels.

Chobe River game viewing
Go water-based game viewing on small tender boats for close-up sightings of Chobe's herds

Another popular activity is fishing for bream or the toothy tiger fish. Your houseboat has all the rods and lures you might need, along with a well-stocked cooler box. During the heat of the day return to the houseboat to relax in your air-conditioned cabin or the middle-deck plunge pool; the barman refreshing your drink as you take in the ever-changing view.

Sunsets out on the Chobe River are nothing short of spectacular! As the fiery red sky slowly fades to black, sit down to a superb three-course dinner; then it’s back to your comfortable cabin for a great night’s sleep out on the water. 

The luxury, service and safari experience you can expect aboard The Zambezi Queen

Choosing Your Luxury Houseboat

I recommend at least a two- or three-night stay to really relax into life on the river.

The larger Zambezi Queen has three levels: the lower and upper decks house 14 suites (10 standard and 4 master suites) each with their own private balcony and river views. Between these two decks is an air-conditioned dining area, bar and lounge which open onto an expansive viewing deck and plunge pool complete with cushioned sun loungers.

Zambezi Queen
Cruise the Chobe River in decadent style aboard The Zambezi Queen

Here's an industry secret: the Zambezi Queen is about to announce the launch of her elegant Chobe Princesses. These three freshly revamped vessels - one 5-suite and two 4-suite - are perfect for a romantic break or group of friends travelling together. Relax, go game viewing, eat, drink and enjoy leisurely hours out on the river in this very special corner of Africa.

Chobe Princess
Be one of the first guests aboard the soon-to-be-launched Chobe Princesses 

Travel Fact File

  • The best time of year for a Chobe River Safari is during Botswana's dry season: May to October.
  • Chobe lies within easy reach of Victoria Falls, and together the two destinations make for an unforgettable holiday. See the African River Dreams and Luxury River Safari itineraries for travel inspiration.

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